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I wondered if the students were even aware that there was supposed to be a protest in progress. : Sex and Yogurt at Pierce

Pierce is a sweet little community college in the center of the San Fernando Valley whose students are pure of heart and noble of goal and whose faculty is dedicated to the highest aims of academia, which is to say the enlightenment of youth and the betterment of the human condition. Right. The place is duller than hell.

I have known this for years, but it was never more obvious than on Tuesday, which was supposed to have been the second day of a student protest against budget cuts that could reduce the number of teachers on campus. No one showed up.

I searched the entire 420 acres of shade trees and lawn and all I found were a couple of guys talking about broads, a man hustling Bible study classes, a kid lying in the shade strumming a guitar and two coeds discussing how rotten their moms were.

While budget-cutting is not the kind of issue likely to trigger undergraduates into a rage roughly equivalent to the feeding frenzy of hammerhead sharks, I had at least expected a protest booth in the old Quad. The simple distribution of angry pamphlets would have been a diversion.

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But the only pamphlets I found advertised a Frozen Yogurt Night sponsored by the Business Club and a seminar on talking dirty offered by the Women’s Resource Center. Put them together and you’ve got nothing more challenging than the Phil Donahue Show.

To be fair, although that is not a prerequisite to writing a column, the title of the seminar was “Talking About Sex,” not “Talking Dirty.”

A major accomplishment of the feminist movement, you see, has been to free women to publicly discuss their erotic behavior without fear of condemnation or imprisonment.

Perhaps a Donahue Night wouldn’t be a bad idea. The Women’s Center might invite the Business Club over some evening to discuss sex while enjoying frozen yogurt; although, given today’s liberal climate, the likelihood is they will end up discussing yogurt while enjoying sex.

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There isn’t a lot to say about yogurt, so it shouldn’t get in the way.

The last campus protests I saw were at UC Berkeley during the 1960s, when so much as a broken water fountain was enough to gather a roaring mob of thousands offering to cremate themselves at Sather Gate for the sake of whatever was going on. Not everyone always knew.

Screaming men and women would strip naked for reasons never made clear, sociology majors would demand audiences with the chancellor, the governor and the Pope, and an unfrocked Maoist would shout obscenities into a bullhorn.

There were always at least 36 arrests and three cases of police brutality at a Berkeley protest, followed by a joint student-faculty statement on academic freedom. Although the water faucet usually never got repaired, everyone had a hell of a good time.

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But this is Woodland Hills, not Berkeley, and this is Sweet Pierce, not the University of California.

I wondered as I meandered about the campus Tuesday if the students at Pierce were even aware that there was supposed to be a protest in progress.

I tried to stop one young man by saying, “Excuse me,” but he replied, “Second building to the right, sir, between the blue doors,” and kept going.

He thought I wanted the men’s room, which I did not, though he was an extremely polite young man and exceptionally clean. No one ever seemed very clean in Berkeley during the 1960s.

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I managed a few moments with a couple talking almost nose-to-nose on a bench just outside a building known as the Campus Center. She was sitting with her legs draped across his lap, which, if nothing else, manifested an impressive physical dexterity on her part.

Their names were Pam and Timmy. That told me something right away. There were no Pams and Timmys on the front lines of social revolution during the protest years.

They had names like Mario and Bettina, and their fathers had either been beaten to death by company goons during a waterfront strike or were field representatives for the American Communist Party.

When I asked Pam and Timmy if they were interested in the budget-cutting protest, she said, “Mildly,” and he said, “Naw,” which meant, one was forced to assume, “No.”

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What was remarkable about their response is that they never looked at me, but rather stayed in that nose-to-nose position. Pam, as it turned out, was fully aware of the protest and sort of, you know, agreed with its aims.

Timmy, on the other hand, maintained a Naw stance right down the line.

Only when I asked how they felt about sex and yogurt did they display genuine interest, but by then it was clear that no great moments were aborning here, so I left.

I would say that we have come to a time of indifference on campus, except they are still raising hell in Berkeley.

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One can therefore conclude that, because Pierce has always been indifferent and Berkeley has always been in foment, very little has changed over the past 30 years.

If it weren’t for hot sex and cold yogurt, this could turn out to be a really boring decade.


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